Should you Know the HIV status of your House Help

Meru, March 16, 2011-A programme officer with Global Foundation for Children and Women Welfare is asking parents to take their house helps for HIV/Aids test before they start working to avoid transmission of the virus to the children.

Judy Wangari said parents usually tended to trust the house helps with their children too much and had no idea what risks they were exposing their children to.

Speaking in Meru during a Children’s Rights workshop, Wangari said sexual harassment and physical abuse by house helps have been singled out as the main issues affecting children in Meru County.

The workshop in Meru heard that children between the ages of 5 and 12 years who were left under the care of the house helps were at a risk of being abused and stigmatized.

She said house helps were abusing children under their care sexually leading to their contracting STDs and HIV/Aids at early age while others were beaten over small mistakes.

She noted that many children lived with stigma because they were afraid of the house help as they had been warned not to report or risk being punished.  She said that sometimes, the children were promised snacks in exchange for their silence.

Ms Wangari advised parents to take their house helps for HIV/Aids test before they started working to avoid transmission of the virus to the children.

“Parents should also create time to be with their children before they go to bed and on weekends so as to know what is going on in their lives and how they find their house help”, she said.

The North Imenti Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization chairlady Mrs Joyce Muriuki alleged that many children left under the care of their step mothers were mistreated.

The seminar participants decried this inhuman tendency by step parents and also expressed concern over workers in children’s homes who abused orphans by either forcing them to work or sodomizing them.

She said the Children’s Department should take legal action against those who mistreated children and asked chiefs to be on the lookout for such offenders in their areas of jurisdiction.

KNA/ Kenneth Marangu

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